In ancient times, if a man was interested in marrying a woman who had never been married/sexually active (a “pure virgin”), he would approach her father in order to establish a betrothal/marriage contract (i.e. to purchase her from her father since she was legally his property). Paul saw his role in establishing the Corinthian church like that of a father who had “betrothed” his daughter to “one (man)/husband”. That man was “Christ”. The reason the term “husband” is used, is b/c God sees betrothal as the beginning of the marriage. The moment a man and woman are betrothed, they become husband and wife (e.g. Mat 1:18). Two things however made betrothal different than what we think of as marriage: 1) The couple did not yet live together. The betrothed wife would remain with her father while her betrothed husband left to prepare a home for their new family. His return would signal both the securing of that place and the start of the wedding celebration (Joh 14:2-3; Mat 25:10) . 2) The couple would wait to sexually consummate the marriage until after the wedding. These two differences meant that the betrothal period also represented a time of testing. While apart, each person was expected to remain faithful as proof of their love for the other. Anything less would necessitate divorce (e.g. Mat 1:19). In regard to Christ, this means living in faithful obedience to His commands (Joh 14:15, 21, 23-24). To fail in this regard will likewise spell the end of the marriage – i.e. no consummation w/Christ or residence in His heavenly home (Mat 7:21-23 – “depart from Me, I never knew you” = These statements are marital in nature. They indicate that neither co-habitation nor coitus had taken place – nor ever would [e.g. “knew” – Gen 4:17, 25]. These verses are therefore to be understood as Christ divorcing or ending the marriage contract w/those Christians who are unfaithful “workers of lawlessness” during the betrothal period of their earthly lives- i.e. they failed the test.) It is for this reason that Paul claimed to be “afraid” or possess “divine jealousy” for the Corinthian believers. He perceived error in their “thoughts” that would – if not remedied, cause them to be “led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Attributing moral (or marital) failure to wrong thinking has biblical support that goes deep into mankind’s past. According to Paul, it was how “the serpent (or Satan) deceived Eve.” In other words, this is how the devil “by his cunning” was able to convince the first “Christians” (i.e. the first people betrothed to Christ) to be unfaithful – or disobey His commands. Important then to our betrothal to Christ is the identification (and rejection) of the demonic thinking that will destroy our faithfulness and future hopes of final salvation. Below are a list of (9) such devilish thoughts:
- You don’t need to guard or give your mind to Jesus in order to be faithful, that’s your personal space.
(2Co 10:3-5; Rom 8:7-8; Jam 1:13-15; Pro 5:21-23).
- Christ will understand if you keep giving into trials since yours are more difficult than those faced by others.
(1Co 10:1-14; Heb 2:17-18 w/4:15 = Jesus’ ability to resist temptation/trial was not due to His divinity or b/c He faced easier circumstances. He was in “every respect” like us in His suffering yet conquered demonstrating our ability to do the same – no matter the situation. The problem is not our ability/potential but our unwillingness to be faithful when it hurts – Heb 12:3-4 versus Pro 28:21 = Where many people are at. In this light consider Mat 4:8-9; also Rom 8:17 –“suffer” = the pain of not giving into our flesh – vv12-13).
- God is not delivering on the abundant life He promised which means you need to take matters into your own hands.
If you are married to Christ, then God has already delivered everything you could ever need (2Pe 1:3; Phi 1:21). If Jesus can’t be enough, then other abundant life desires may never come (Mat 13:44-46 = I value Christ and the K of H as worth more than anything else I could possess. IOW: That is enough to bring fulfillment – e.g. New Tribes Mission; Psa 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord” is the prerequisite to rec’g “the desires of your heart”).
- Marriage to Jesus, won’t cost you anything since that’s the definition of true love (it’s free).
Christ’s offer is free, but it will cost us everything if we choose to enter into marriage w/Him (Mat 16:24-25; Luk 9:57-62 = To follow Christ requires we give up the need for personal comfort, society’s or our family’s approval).
- Possessing the kind of trusting and fulfilling love for Christ that keeps one loyal to Christ requires no effort, so if it doesn’t show up, you can’t be blamed for the failure that follows.
All marriage take continual work if the feelings of fulfilling love and loyalty are to remain. Hence the reason we must be constantly giving time to those things which fan the flames of our relationship w/Christ: 1) time listening and learning from Him (Luk 10:38-42 w/7:47 and Joh 12:3 = Mary loved Christ bc she spent time listening/learning from Him. Notice, this is also why she was forgiven -i.e. remained loyal to Him so as to continue receiving it; Deu 17:18-20 = listening/learning is the key to loyalty; Phi 1:9-11 = The more you learn the more you “abound” in your love for Christ and want to be loyal to Him), 2) time communicating w/Him (Col 4:2), 3) time thinking about Him and what His Word teaches (Jos 1:8 = Meditation on His Word is also key to love and loyalty; Psa 63:5-8 = Meditating on His Word is the means to experiencing fulfillment and trust), 4) time talking w/others about Him (Heb 3:12-13; Eph 5:17-20 = Godly submission and reverence for Christ is the by-product of godly conversations). In sum, this is what it means to love Christ w/all of our heart, mind and strength (the greatest commandment – Deu 6:5-9).
- Being faithful to Jesus is super hard or burdensome and therefore requires you be super tough which is not fair b/c God made you a super wimp.
(1Jo 5:1-3 = If it feels that way then it’s bc you don’t love Christ; e.g. Anton Krupicka runs up a mtn every day)
- You can take a vacation from your marriage to Christ, and He will always take you back.
IOW: you can commit sins that will get you excommunicated as long as you determine to be faithful during your time out (so you can get back in). The problem with this view is that it is based on even more erroneous thinking: the belief that Jesus has an obligation to take us back. Here’s the reality of such a situation per God’s Word: our choice to take pleasure in unrighteousness makes us the kind of person God has been known to give over to the darkness we so readily chose to embrace (sealing our fate in apostasy) (2Th 2:9-12; Eze 20:21-26; Isa 6:9-12 w/Mat 13:10-15; 1Pe 2:8b)
- Jesus married up when He married you which is why He should understand when you struggle to be faithful (you’re the one getting the short end of the stick).
Though no one would dare to admit this, the actions and attitude of the unfaithful betray them. They show they have fallen for this sinister lie in their ungrateful behavior toward Christ. They live as though being a Christian is a curse or a terrible burden, that Jesus is not the kind of marriage partner to be proud of. Such thinking means they have forgotten what the Scripture say was our state before Christ (Eph 2:1-2, 111ff). It is Jesus who married down (way down). The grace and mercy that has been shown to us should never cease to humble and amaze us. Such love should motivate us to want to give our everything to Him (especially in light of the fact that He gave everything for us – those who were not worthy of Him) (2Co 5:14-15).
- I can make Christ the second greatest love of my life.
There are a lot of things that compete for the number one spot of our love/loyalty – and the devil is keen to that. Jesus however is clear, our life must demonstrate that He is indeed our greatest love. That is the cost we must count (and accept) if we are to be His (Luk 14:25-35; Mat 10:34-37).
To entertain any of the above devilish thoughts is to equally embrace a foreign gospel and false Christ (something Paul also addressed w/the Corinthians – 2Co 11:4). It means that we are not acting like a sincere and pure bride waiting for her bridegroom to return. It means that we are instead the worst kind of whore – one who goes back to the streets after being rescued and redeemed. We are a person not suitable to be married to Christ nor spend eternity in heaven w/Him. That benefit will only be afforded to those who reject such thinking and love Christ thru happy and faithful obedience to Him.